Turbulent Jamuna causes massive erosion
River erosion has taken a turn for the worse in five upazilas of Sirajganj on the western bank of the Jamuna devouring large areas and making people homeless.
The erosion devoured around 450 homesteads and 270 acres of cropland in the last seven days and rising water inundated many low-laying char areas.
Many people of the area have moved to safer places like roads, higher lands, embankments and in different educational institutions.
The affected areas are Jogtola, Kaizuri, Jamirta, Benotia, Porzona, Bagporzona, Gudhibari and Daya in Shahzadpur upazila, Maizbari, Shubhogachha, Natuarpara, Meghai, Bilchetol, Khudbandhi and Baoikhola in Kazipur upazila, Char Mesra, Kawakhola and Gutibari in Sirajganj Sadar upazila, Char Delua and Operchar in Belkuchi upazila, Enayetpur, Sthal, Umorpur, Char Umorpur, Jalalpur and Billahchar in Chowhali upazila.
The erosion has put several hundred structures and establishments including schools, colleges, madrasas and bazaars under threat, sources said.
Natuarpara High School in its bid to reduce losses in river erosion recently sold a two-storied building of the school for Tk 7.21 lakh in an auction. The Natuarpara Degree College is also under threat, Water Development Board (WDB) sources said.
During a visit to different affected areas including Natuarpara, Shubhogachha and Maizbari in Kazipur, The Daily Star found that many families in Shubhogachha and Maizbari are moving to safer places. The hapless were seen living under the open sky in the pouring rain.
Surman Ali, 55, of Maizbari village said he had moved his home eight times in the last 10 years. This year, he has taken shelter on a road as his dwelling was devoured by the Jamuna a few days ago.
Rokeya Khatun, 42, a widow of Natuarpara village, said she lost her hut built on the only piece of land she owns to river erosion. She has now taken shelter on the Meghai embankment with her livestock.
The WDB office sources said the water level of the Jamuna is increasing unusually due to heavy rain and the rush of water from upstream, causing massive erosion along the western bank. They said the water level of the Jamuna is still bellow the danger mark.
Nizamul Huq Bhuiyan, executive engineer of WDB, told The Daily Star that they, with the help of army personnel, started dumping sandbags along the bank to protect areas in Kazipur and Shahzadpur upazilas.
He said he asked higher authorities to provide funding to implement projects to stop the erosion. He mentioned that they have built about 17 km of flood-control embankments on the western bank of the Jamuna which should save many areas from flooding this year.
However, locals claim that the embankments are built with sand and will not help improve the situation since they usually wash away in heavy current.